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I must admit, I’m a bit of stats nut when it comes to forming an argument and making my case for something, like whether the Celtics can win it all this year, or saying its time to break up the Red Sox and start all over.
Rethinking the DemandGen Process: Quantity or Quality?
But when it comes to B2B sales and marketing, I am going to get on my soapbox and tell all it’s time to rethink the entire demand generation process. Why? Because looking at a variety of stats from some of my favorite authorities like Gartner, Forrester, Marketing Sherpa and Sirius Decision tell a very dark story about current practices that still plague the B2B industry and have a big-time drag on revenue and profitability growth. These stats represent some of the worst practices that are a carryover from the way we did things in the good old days when buyers actually took your calls and read your email. They also point to an obsession with lead quantity rather than lead quality.
Sales-Ready vs. NOT Sales-Ready
Let’s start at the top. Basically, today when someone hits your web site for the first time and registers for something of interest, only 10-15% of those folks are sales-ready. Most of the rest, 70% or more are not ready to engage beyond this initial opt-in for that white paper or webinar. So going all Lady Gaga and calling all those people who downloaded that cool info-graphic you just published or who dropped by your booth at Info-Mania Marketing World Expo is impressive, but a waste of time. Its not hard to figure out the ones that sales can work on, but that 70+% group will be quickly discarded by your sales team.
What Happens to the 70+% That are NOT Sales-Ready?
The latent demand ones typically just fall by the way side. And that is not only a shame, but a HUGE waste of your leadgen dollars. That is something your CEO or CFO will remind you of come budget review time because 3 out of 4 of those leads will end up buying sometime in the future. More damning though is stat #3 from the worst practice hit list: 9 out of 10 of those who buy, do so from someone other than who started things off initially. Think about that one for a moment. Let it roll around in that rational analytical mind of yours before you start reaching for the bottle of Tequila.
“You Tawkin’ to ME?”
Point #4 speaks to buyer behavior today that is driven to total distraction with Smart Phones and texting and tweets and stop-by workers and bosses. With B2B buyers bombarded by 3-5,000 messages daily, it takes 11-13 proactive outbound communications to interrupt those ADHD buyers. That’s a lot of emails, phone calls and banner ads loaded with supposedly juicy content before that target buyer asks, “you tawkin’ to me?” and pays attention. It’s not necessarily that the content or the offer or the call-to-action is irrelevant or weak. You have to be committed, be persistent and keep trying.
What’s the Payoff for the Shift to Quality?
Finally, though we have painted a dark and hopeless picture here with the state of things in B2B lead management behavior, the real message to deliver to your sales team and your bosses is that doing it right will make a huge difference in revenues and commissions for everyone. Sirius Decisions annual study of the B2B market repeatedly report that the best-in-class sales and marketing teams generate four (4) times the number of closed deals than average team from the same number of leads.
If that doesn’t get your bosses’ attention when you make your case for making some changes in your lead management practices, then you have a different problem to deal with friends.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Maybe We Should Call It Something Else: Why Salespeople Think Marketing Automation is a Four-Letter WordWritten by Rockannand on November 3, 2011 – 10:58 am -
As part of our series of guest posts, this article was contributed by my colleague Rick Schwartz of Sales Addiction.
Going back to the mid 1900s we’ve been automating everything. Manufacturing began using machines to do what people used to do and in some cases, the people were put out of work.
My first personal experience with automation happened 1979-ish. I was a customer service rep for what used to be called “The Phone Company.” Part of our job was answering inquiries about customer bills. Once the customer asked a question, we’d put them on hold, go over to the file cabinets, look for and (sometimes) find the copy of their bill.
Then someone had the idea that we all get computer monitors on our desk which could access the company’s mainframe. We’d be able to view the bill more quickly and provide better, more accurate service.
This was fine except that no one in the office had really every seen a computer screen and keyboard before. Some of us thought it was a really cool thing and we adapted. Some folks who had been on the job for many years couldn’t or wouldn’t give it a chance. Eventually those folks left their jobs.
n the late 90s it was Sales Force Automation. Sometimes it was called a Contact Management system or a Customer Relationship Management system. It didn’t matter. The upshot was that sales people had to learn a new way to do their jobs. They were told it would help them sell more stuff. They didn’t believe it. All they saw was learning to do a new thing for management – not to mention that it was mostly about making them more accountable for their daily work.
There are tons of other examples, but you get the point. Today, looking back at any of these new ideas, most workers can’t imagine doing their jobs without the aid of various types of automation.
So what’s up with Marketing Automation?
It’s presented as something that will help close more deals and make more money. The challenge is that it contains that four letter word – Auto(mation).
Adding a new process (automated or not) into the sales world is seen as something that is disruptive – and frankly it is. At the end of the day, recent metrics and case studies show that adopting MA can be a big boon to those chasing sales results. In most cases however, a sales department is nowhere near the end of the day when a new idea is presented.
For now, I’ll leave the solutions to smarter souls than me. If you have any ideas, please comment.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Last month, I participated in a FOCUS round table call hosted by Craig Rosenberg (the Funnelholic ) where the focus was on defining marketing automation success and how to get there. (Listen to the recorded round table here.)
In looking at how to define success, I highlighted 4 lessons learned and 5 keys to success.
Let’s start with the lessons learned from the past 3-4 years:
- That if sales and executive management does not see and experience tangible results that are fundamentally different from before the project started, then the program initiative support from top management and the sales team will sour.
- The skill sets required by the marketing team are different and more demanding than originally thought or anticipated. The concepts and processes are challenging for the current crop of B2B marketers. We need to think like our buyer – outside-in vs inside-out thinking. Focus on buyer needs and problems, not your products. Build relationships and conduct conversations vs “broadcasting” and promoting the product. Think like a publisher and develop relevant content for buyers. Develop analytical skills to identify and spot trends in target markets/customers
- Lead nurturing/management requires thought, planning, patience and constant testing to determine what works and what does not work.
- To quote Jeff Ernst of Forrester, “the full benefits are hidden behind old company habits.” ((4/26/11 research report, B2B Marketers Must Better Prepare for Marketing Automation. It takes 2 years or more for companies to move beyond simple lead scoring and drip campaigns to multi-touch lead nurturing that use the much more powerful and effective behavioral-based targeting capabilities.
The five (5) keys to successful MA project are:
- B2B marketers must figure out exactly HOW marketing automation will optimize and augment the current marketing plan. The project plan and business case must clearly articulate how the investment in automation ensures a client acquisition strategy and plan that delivers better results (over 12-24 months) than one without that investment.
- Marketing leadership must focus on developing a strong and supportive relationship with sales leadership and the top “A” reps. Remember that marketing automation is all about “sales enablement”, so make sure from the beginning that the top reps and sales team understands EXACTLY how automation will make them more money.
- Develop and execute a campaign in the 1st 90 days that delivers a significant WIN for the sales team. Sales and executives suffer from ADHD when it comes to results.
- Good users of Sales Force Automation realize the benefits of MA earlier and to a greater extent than bad SFA users. If Salesforce.com is broken, fix it before you try to put in MA or you will regret it.
- Marketing’s #1 goal is to serve sales – they are your #1 customer so make sure you meet often to gain agreement on lead definitions, prospect qualification rules, attributes of ideal client and business/market targets. Assume nothing and over communicate, especially in the first 90-120 days.
Lots to think about, but after doing these projects for over 12 years, the ability to succeed has gotten harder not easier. Under promise and over deliver to overcome the ADHD factor and your marketing automation project may live to see year 2 and beyond.
Listen to the entire audio of the roundtable here.
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
- Close over 4 times the number of deals as “average” firms
- Close twice as many deals as “good” firms.
These are eye-popping numbers to consider, especially with economic times that demand that businesses make every opportunity count.
What does “Market Leading” Mean?
The market leading firms are adept at aligning their people around marketing-to-sales processes enabled with CRM and Marketing Automation tools that optimize their efforts and maximize target audience reach. The best B2B marketing organizations are almost exclusively focused on lead quality. They emphasize buyer behavior and compare to well defined buyer personas in order to build targeted campaigns that move prospects through the buyer stages. They have metrics in place that clearly show management and sales the impact of demand generation programs on the pipeline, closed deals and corporate revenue. Marketing and sales are tightly aligned in terms of people interaction, lead flow process and the use of technology to support every aspect of client acquisition and retention. They practice Lean process improvement principles to eliminate waste in marketing and sales resources and optimize every dollar of sales and marketing spend.
What Should “Good” Firms Focus on to Become “Market Leading”?
In part 3 of the series, we detailed the steps required to move from “average” to “good” performance. With those practices in place, we can now turn our attention to the following programs to implement in order to achieve marketing leading lead management status
- Establish lead quality teams consisting of marketing, inside sales, sales admin and possibly the sales team and conduct weekly lead hand-off reviews.
- Develop comprehensive buyer personas that profile key buyer types such as end-user, influencer, buyer/decision-maker and executive (CXOs).
- Develop progressive profiling programs that deepen the intelligence for each buyer type in your CRM/Marketing Automation database. Utilize prospecting tools such as Cardbrowser, Hoovers, Netprospex, Zoominfo, etc to automate the process of keeping contact information fresh and complete.
- Create comprehensive content maps for the key buyer types and for each buyer stage:
Awareness > Inquiry > Consideration > Purchase.
After mapping existing content, create and/or re-purpose content to fill any gaps. Ensure that content consists of whitepapers, webinars, short articles, case studies, videos (2-3 minutes) and podcasts (5-7 minutes).
- Develop lead nurturing campaigns that segment by buyer type and buyer stage. Deliver personalized value propositions by these segments to deepen engagement and optimize buyer stage conversions.
- Develop metrics based on corporate objectives such as revenue growth and customer retention. Use marketing dashboards and reports to present marketing’s contribution to revenue and pipeline to senior management on a monthly/quarterly basis.
Comments from others on the earlier installment in this lead nurturing series have highlighted other resources and approaches to consider. I will wrap things up with a final post that links to these resources.
Tags: B2B Marketing, buyer personas, Lead management, Lead Nurturing, Sirius Decisions
Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Thought Leadership, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »